After nearly four years, the Abbey Lane bridge project has taken shape. A community meeting was held on Monday to discuss the project.
“It was very positive,” said Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock regarding the community’s reaction to the project.
Brock said there were approximately 60 people who attended the meeting.
The primary reason it has taken so long to get the bridge project started has been the permitting process and design approval from the Division of Water and the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife, officials said.
The stream running through Ambleside is home to the black-sided dace, a small minnow that’s protected by the federal government.
“They wouldn’t approve any bridge design that might possibly damage the dace or its habitat,” said Brock.
Brock said what they were able to agree on was the installation of a temporary bridge while a new bridge was constructed.
“It’s been a frustrating situation when you realize how certain regulatory agencies value the life of a small minnow greater than the value of public safety,” said Brock. “I’m just happy that we have finally come to the point of construction and, after we are finished, we will have drastically lowered the risk of flooding in that area.”
Brock addressed the bridge at Ambleside during a previous fiscal court meeting. He said the county had to revisit the plans and get another $30,000 to $40,000 because the federal fish and wildlife agency would not let the fiscal court do the project the way it intended and refused to issue a permit.
With the project having to be redesigned, Brock said during a previous meeting that it should begin around July 1.
Anthony Cloud can be contacted at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN.